The only remaining photo of Wendy Desum

A resident of Maundbury for nine short years, Wendy was the central hub for a series of seemingly unrelated and horrendous events from 1961 through 1966 that drove her and her mother – Aubrey Desum -  from Maundbury after the disappearance of Shelly Chrisfield-Tanner in 1966. No direct tie to Chrisfield-Tanner’s disappearance in 1966 and the Desum’s was proven.

1961 – Wendy Desum’s father – Theodor Elroy - was found brutally beaten to death with a hammer in an alley next to the Formont Gas and Garage where he worked. Two year old Wend Desum was found in the back of the garage in a small crib. She was taken to St. Mary’s Nunnery until her mother, Aubrey Desum, could return to Maundbury to claim her. She stays with her daughter at St. Mary’s due to financial difficulties.

When questioned about her father, the only thing Wendy Desum said was, “He’s not my Daddy.

1961 - Winter – Aubrey Desum was asked to stay within Maundbury when a possible connection between her and her estranged husband’s death was discovered. She continued to reside at the Nunnery and worked there until the summer of 1962 when she moved back into town.  She continued to work at St. Mary’s, bringing Wendy with her to be watched by the nuns while she worked.

1963 – Wendy Desum was seen speaking to Shelly Chrisfield-Tanner shortly after she was released after a series of fights with the Maundbury Sherriff’s Department.  Aubrey Desum exchanged harsh words with Shelly and a fight ensued. As deputies pulled the two women apart, Wendy Desum went missing. An extensive search was conducted and the little girl was found four hours later – again, in the back of the Formont Gas and Garage. The officer on the scene said that he found it odd that she was standing in the same area they found her years before. Almost the same exact spot.

The body of Mark Wicks was found several blocks away from the Formont Gas and Garage at the same time as Wendy Desum’s disappearance, the apparent victim of a robbery. He was severely beaten about the head with a brick found next to the body.  Wicks was a public defender and was also a member of the group Brotherhood of the Burning Star, though no connection between the group and his death was made.  The coroners report stated that several teeth seemed to be missing and that there seemed to be damage done to the left eye that did not result from the blows from the brick. Wicks’ palms were also severely lacerated.  Mark Wicks was often seen with both Aubrey Desum and Shelly Chrisfield-Tanner, however no direct tie to his murder and the women was ever concluded. 

1964 – Wendy Desum was removed from a preschool classroom and detained when she assaulted another child – shoving her up against a wall, gripping her throat and growling obscenities at her. No charges were made. Wendy did not return to the school.

Later that same year, a man was found beaten to death within a three-block radius of Floyd’s Coffee House – the former location of the Formont Gas and Garage.  He was identified as Carl Formont by dental records, though several of his teeth were missing. His palms were severely lacerated. The coroner’s office worked with the Maundbury Sherriff’s Department to confirm that Carl Formont, Mark Wicks and Theodor Elroy seemed to have been killed in the same fashion by what could be the same individual.  Chief William Eli Lloyd confirmed that there was no hard evidence that pointed to any one person, but committed to finding the answer to the murders.

Wendy Desum was found standing in the kitchen of Floyd’s when the body was found.  Sherriff Lloyd brings both her and her mother in for questioning. Nothing is found to directly link them with the murders and they are released.

1964 – Winter - Wendy Desum disappeared yet again and was found with Shelly Chrisfield-Tanner hours later. Aubrey Desum pressed charges against Chrisfield-Tanner, but they are dropped when Wendy Desum insists that Chrisfield-Tanner was not holding her against her will and that she had sought Chrisfield-Tanner out herself. 

When asked why, Wendy said “I wanted to be with my sister.” Both Chrisfield-Tanner and Aubrey Desum claimed that there was no truth in the statement made by the child and that she had no siblings.

A month later, Aubrey and Wendy Desum’s home was destroyed in a fire. Faulty Christmas light wiring was finally ruled as the cause after a lengthily investigation.

Aubrey and Wendy Desum spent that Christmas in St. Mary’s Nunnery.

Aubrey Desum was a victim of a physical assault on New Years Eve of the same year and suffered several blows to the face and head with a blunt object. Her assailant fled the scene when a group of celebrants appeared.  Sherriff Lloyd was called to the scene. Two blocks away, another officer was called to Floyd’s Coffee House when Wendy Desum lashed out at several workers who stopped her from heading back to the kitchen area. 

1965 - Aubrey Desum underwent extensive facial surgery.

Wendy remained at St. Mary’s and was watched around the clock by the nuns there.

Wendy Desum went wild on the evening of January 13th, 1965 and was restrained by several nuns when she tried to leave St. Mary’s. She was sedated and locked in her room.

The bodies of Tammy Cooper, Jessica Moorse, Robert Taylor, Paul Taylor, Rupert Johnson, Netty Lampersetta, Larry Hooper, June Mary Rail, John Tate and Jack Tanner were found between the evenings of January 13th, 1965 and January 18th, 1965.  All were found with the heads pummeled by a blunt object with several teeth missing, damage to one or both of their eyes and their palms severely cut.

The assailant was never found.

The end of the killing spree seemed to coincide with Sister Jessica Dansworth taking Wendy Desum to the Floyd’s Coffee House location against the blessings of St. Mary’s. Sister Jessica begged the night manager to let her and the child visit the kitchen area on the night of January 18th, 1965.

1965 - Aubrey Desum continued to suffer from physical issues due to the injuries sustained on New Years Eve. She and Wendy remained in St. Mary’s.  Sister Jessica Dansworth was the primary caregiver and was frequently seen with Wendy Desum at the Floyd’s Coffee House location.

On the night of November 5th, 1966, both Aubrey and Wendy Desum left St. Mary’s Nunnery and never returned. There were seen leaving carrying nothing but a small notepad and the child’s doll.

Sister Jessica Dansworth claimed that she knew nothing about where they had gone. Sister Jessica left St. Mary’s Nunnery three months later and returned to her family’s home in New Jersey.


Shelly Chrisfield-Tanner circa 1956

The whereabouts of Aubrey and Wendy Desum and are still unknown to this day, though speculation was made about their disappearance. Several researchers point to the date of their disappearance and the disappearance of Shelly Chrisfield-Tanner several months before after her robbery spree in 1966.

There are no additional blunt force trauma related deaths with elements similar to the “Bloody Palm Murders” reported in Maundbury after Wendy and Aubrey Desum left.

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